Terpstra Wins Tour of Qatar 2014; Demare Wins Final Stage
As the 147 remaining riders in the Tour of Qatar peloton gathered for the start of stage 6 at the Sealine Beach Resort in the southern part of Qatar, Golden Jersey wearer Terpstra of Omega Pharma-QuickStep had a comfortable 17 second lead in the general classification. The Dutchman knew he didn’t have a lot to worry about in today’s 113.5-kilometer stage that would finish on a circuit around the Doha Corniche. Under fairly warm and sunny conditions it took just a few meters for the first attacks to occur. Therefore, a breakaway group was formed, which featured Sergent (TFR), Burghardt (BMC), Westra (AST), Bazzana (UHC) and Chtioui (SKD).
As the breakaway group did not pose a threat in the overall rankings, the group was allowed to form a lead of 01 minute and 20 seconds, which the group later expanded to a maximum of 02 minutes and 50 seconds. As they entered the final 6 kilometer circuit, the leading group enjoyed a 02:30 advantage at the first crossing of the finish line on the circuit. The gap however dropped down to 51 seconds at the first intermediate sprint (kilometer 73.5, 4th crossing of the line), which was won by Chtioui ahead of Sergent and Westra.
While the main peloton group, led by the Omega Pharma–Quickstep, Lotto–Belisol and GreenEdge teams, worked hard to keep the escapees within a safe distance, the breakaway group expanded their lead to 01:55 at the second bonus sprint (kilometer 90.5, 7th crossing of the line) that was won by Westra ahead of Sergent and Burghardt. The strong men at the front hung on to the lead all the way to final lap and were eventually caught just before the final one kilometer mark.
As anticipated, the stage culminated in a peloton sprint across the finish line. Arnaud Démare proved strongest and rode to an impressive victory, beating Daniele Bennati and Bernhardt Eisel. 22-year-old Frenchman Démare also won his very first race victory as a professional rider in the same location on the Doha Corniche.
The other man of the day was Niki Terpstra. After first capturing the golden leader's jersey on day 1 of the event when he won in Dukhan, the Dutchman managed to hang on to the overall leadership all the way to the finish of the Tour. The 29-year old wins his first major stage race, beating Tom Boonen by 17” and Jurgen Roelandts by 20”.
"Finally I made it," Terpstra said after being celebrated on the podium next to the finish line. "I'm very happy about this victory because it was stressful for me. The last few days maybe a little bit less so, but with the wind in the desert it was a bit difficult."
"I was so happy today when I crossed the line. To me, it's important because it's the first time in my career that I won a short stage race. I was already on the podium of Eneco Tour, Three Days of De Panne, and other races. But, this is quite a new experience. I learned a lot this week. After my Stage 1 victory, for the rest I had to follow the guys. They stayed as calm as possible and I really counted on a great team here."
Winner of two stages in this year's edition of the Tour of Qatar (22 stage wins overall in Qatar), Boonen wins the points classification (Silver Jersey) while his team mate Guillaume Van Keirsbulck finishes as best young rider of the race and takes the White Pearl Jersey. Impressive during the whole Tour of Qatar, Omega Pharma – Quickstep was crowned best team.